This week's featured author is Kitty Felde from Los Angeles, CA and her middle-grade mystery book Welcome to Washington, Fina Mendoza.
By Kitty Felde
1. What message are you hoping people will receive when they read your book?
I hope readers will see members of Congress as real people with real families, but I also want folks to understand how petty partisanship plays out all over Capitol Hill. Even when it comes to picking a church or not laughing at each other’s jokes. I also want to bring DC three thousand miles closer to kids who live in California and never get those field trips to Washington. DC feels remote to Californians, unconnected to our lives. I want to make it real and relevant.
2. Why did you write this book?
I covered Capitol Hill for half a dozen years for public radio. I had marvelous tales to tell of the oddities of life inside the Beltway, but I ran out of dinner parties to tell those stories. The book allowed me to put my observations of DC down on paper.
3. What has been the hardest part of the publishing process?
Finding the right publisher for this book took forever. After the big 5 in NYC said nice things about the writing but rejected the book as “not for them,” I thought hard about who my audience was: folks in DC and kids from the west. I nearly signed with a California publisher, but happily ended up with Black Rose Writing out of Texas.
4. What has been the biggest (pleasant) surprise in your publishing journey?
How much kids LOVE the story of the Demon Cat of Capitol Hill. It’s such a good tale (tail?) - anyone who sees the Demon Cat is cursed with bad luck. She’s a ghostly feline who grows to the size of a mini-bus. Lawmakers who see her lose their elections. Kids who’ve attended my readings want to be almost scared and demand to hear ALL the details about that darned cat.
5. Would you write a sequel to your book? Why or why not?
Yes! There are more DC mysteries to be solved. And Fina’s grandmother is finally coming out to help anchor the motherless family. (She was delayed after breaking her leg falling off a barstool at the Indian casino where she plays blackjack.)
6. What author or book has influenced your writing?
Madeleine L’Engle for her guts to write about emotions and family and spirituality; Kerry Greenwood and Alexander McCall Smith for putting memorable characters at the center of their mysteries.
7. You are stranded on an island with only 3 books. What are their titles?
Pride and Prejudice, Skellig by David Almond, and the latest #1 Ladies Detective Agency
8. What is your philosophy about rejection?
Back when I was both a playwright and a freelance journalist, I played a game with myself. When my play was rejected, I told myself that was okay since I was really a journalist. On the days when my news editor yelled at me, I told myself that was okay since I was really a writer. It works.
9. Do you have a day job? What is it?
I’m the host/executive producer of the award-winning Book Club for Kids podcast where I talk to middle school readers about books. (Named one of the top 10 podcasts for kids in the world by “The Times” of London.
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